Asilo Pune: The new luxe landmark on the city’s nightspot scene

We check out Marriott’s second Asilo, which opened in The Westin Pune Koregaon Park recently, to find out whether the lavish lounge can emulate the tremendous success of its namesake in Mumbai.

The multi-layered Westin Koregaon Park resembles a plush cruise ship poised as it is on the banks of the Mula Mutha river. In one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods, it seems like the most logical spot for an Asilo to make its presence felt.

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The unique construction of The Westin Pune Koregaon Park lends itself to an abundance of convenient terraces. Image: Courtesy Marriott.

As my significant other and I walk in through the large door festooned with faux cherry blossom, we get a sense of space and inviting interiors. A long bar on the right and cosy seating throughout the length of the room hint at many upcoming nights of boozy bacchanalia done in style.

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Asilo Pune is stylish and comfortable at once. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

It’s too soon to know whether it will make squad goals, but at least at first glance, it seems that Asilo Pune has the right vibes. The graceful Yashtika Rai greets us and ushers us to our seats, proffers gorgeous tropical-accented menus for us to pore over.

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That familiar tropical menu and a bar that’s totally lit, in more ways than one! Images: (left) Priya Pathiyan and (right) courtesy Asilo Pune.

The cocktails are interesting, with twists on the classics using homemade ingredients and infusions, such as a Negroni made with beeswax-infused gin, which turns out to be an absolute winner.

The Bloody Miyagi is a Japanese take on the classic Mary with kabayaki sauce instead of Worcesteshire, Japanese mustard replacing the Tabasco, and clarified tomato juice instead of the simple version. It is rimmed with togarashi instead of salt and has a little crispy nori on top. Sipping on this elaborate concoction makes me think that some tried and tested classics are best left unstirred.

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My Negroni and the Bloody Miyagi on the left and a cinnamony Canella Amore on the right. Images: Priya Pathiyan.

But, on the whole, I find that their bar selections are absolutely on point. I do miss my usual Asilo favourite — the white truffle Manhattan — but I suppose it does go better with the Manhattan-like Mumbai skyline and Central Park-like green patch of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse!

Fortunately, a good wine list, selection of premium alcohol, and all the Asilo Signatures are there, including the Tennessee whiskey based Cannela Amore, which is beautifully smoked with cinnamon. Rishi Mehra, F&B director, The Westin Pune swears by the unique La Dolce Vita, refreshing Roundhay Garden, extensive G&T menu and sparkling cocktails that set the tone for the new luxe landmark.

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It’s a great place for premium drinks and posh snacks. Images: Courtesy Asilo Pune.

Yashtika takes us on a walk to the outdoor section, which is slated to open to guests post the monsoons. Right now, it has yet to acquire the glamour that one associates with the Mumbai Asilo, where you’re sure to have soaked in the rich ambience and Ibiza vibe in the designer cabanas. But once it opens, this will be the zone in Asilo Pune that everyone wants to be in. It may not be at the dizzying altitude of the OG Asilo (on the 40th floor of St Regis Mumbai!), but I think that it will make up for that in sheer attitude.

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The mixologist in action. Images: Priya Pathiyan.

The waitstaff is well trained to be just the right mix of friendly, informed, and efficient (although there’s a tiny tendency to over explain in their earnestness; I already know what a Negroni is, ditto a robata, thank you very much!). The deejay spins a mix of house and commercial while we are there, and I’m told that we can expect deep house, vocals, afro beats, commercial, percussion, and classic tunes, on other nights.

It’s what you’d expect from a swanky spot like this and my cup runneth over with the vibe. The lit-up arches behind the gorgeous bar and blossoms trailing down from the ceiling draws from the trend sweeping across Mumbai (the décor at Foo comes to mind), and come together to create a sense of coming home to the familiar.

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The perfect flatbreads and wine. What more does one want for a fun evening? Image: Courtesy Asilo Pune.

It’s also comforting to see all the food favourites as well. The fresh-out-of-the-oven burrata and basil pesto flatbreads that have always found takers at Asilo Mumbai’s never-ending Sunday brunches, especially when they’re fusing with spectacular sundowners as the saxophone strains slow. A multitude of small plates like the Crispy Spicy Avocado Maki drizzled with truffle oil that my friends and I have binged on through many a gin-soaked vigil at Asilo post the end of an OTT series we loved and lost.

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The well made uramaki will make you happy. Image: Courtesy Asilo Pune.

Culinary Director Chef Cyrus Irani has added a few dishes to the menu at Asilo Pune and I look forward to trying them when I visit again. For now, we stick to the offerings from the robata, the Japanese grill that they’ve adapted to all kinds of culinary creativity. The popular choice will be the sharing platters that give you a sampling of some of their best. We loved the vegetarian grills one, which had chilli roast potatoes, barbecued paneer, chargrilled veg on skewers, and a fabulous wood-smoked broccoli brushed with middle eastern flavours of zaatar, and sumac is sure to find favour with most palates.

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Burrata and pesto (left) are perennial favourites, while you’ll want to order many of these Tamarind Prawns (right) from the robata. Images: Priya Pathiyan.

Among the tapas, the burrata bruschetta with basil pesto and balsamic is always a safe pick, but there’s also a silken Enoki mushroom preparation that involves liberal lashings of butter garlic sake and a papillote technique that will be recognisable to anyone who has watched Masterchef Australia (that’s almost every English-speaking Indian, then?).

I’m urged to try their Tamarind Prawns and enjoy their tart spiciness though I have to admit that I have to resort to large gulps of my drink to quell the heat. My timid tastebuds aside, I’m sure these fiery morsels are going to be a hit, as will the spicy caramelised chicken skewers, in the on a drizzly monsoon evening and, definitely once the cold Pune winter rolls in.

We don’t quite get to the mains as all these ‘bites’ add up to a lot. But I do check out their fresh-looking poké bowl, which has Norwegian salmon in a sesame soy dressing, plenty of creamy avocado, edamame, carrot, radish, and much more. Pretty and generally quite pleasing.

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Chocolate heaven! Image: Priya Pathiyan.

The dessert menu is especially exciting, with hazelnut chocolate cigars, a sticky toffee fudge cake, and a baked Alaska with raspberry coulis. I go for their 65% extra bitter Guayaquil truffle, which gives me the perfect sweet ending I seek from this satisfying evening.

While Asilo Mumbai is special because the number of opulent open-air nightspots in the city can literally be counted on the fingers of one hand, Asilo Pune has its work cut out for it in a place where almost every place worth its salt has an al fresco attribute. Therefore, a lot rides on the quality of its food and drink and service. Fortunately, the team seems to have all that firmly in place.

Address: 2nd Floor, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, Pune 411001.

Timings: Open between five pm and one am

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)

Food: 8/10 | Drinks: 8/10 | Service: 8/10 | Interiors/Décor: 7/10 | Vibe: 7.5/10 (will probably hit a nine, once it goes outdoors)
One dish we loved: Crispy Spicy Avocado Maki with Truffle is a crowd favourite for a reason! This one ticked all the boxes and then some.
One dish that didn’t work for us: While the poké bowl was fresh, fewer carrot slivers and the addition of a dash of mirin for a more balanced umame flavour would elevate it.

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